By Julie Obermiller email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — When someone is facing cancer or illness, going bald from chemotherapy treatments, or too tired to function, the warm greeting of a four-legged pet can make all the difference. The unconditional love of a furry companion has helped many people through the battle to survive.
Organizers are about to hold their second Bark For Life for the American Cancer Society at Day Road Park in Lockport, and they hope to top the $8,000 raised last year for the fight against cancer.
When Bark For Life takes place Aug. 25, pet owners will have their beloved canines on leash, ready to take a one-mile walk to celebrate and remember those who have faced cancer and to “bark back” in the cancer fight.
Dirk Markee, a two-year canine survivor of a lymphoma diagnosis and 26 chemotherapy treatments, will lead the walk. Dirk’s owner, and event co-chair, Jenn Markee, is excited about all the additions to the 2013 event.
“We have a sound stage for music and ceremonies, as well as a carnival-like atmosphere to welcome families for a Sunday morning of fun. The basket auction will be huge and we welcome old and new vendors,” she said. “Most of all, we can’t wait for the return of the cute dogs. Last year, they ranged from dressed-up poodles in a stroller to Marmaduke-sized mutts, and all was harmonious and fun.”
Sponsors will have their business signs around the track and on the event website, and sponsorships are still available. Vendors on site will offer everything from embroidered bandanas to gourmet pet treats, as well as many types of pet services, from day camps and sitting services to grooming and training.
Admission is free for spectators and those without dogs, and there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Those who attend will see free dog agility demos, as well as a return visit by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Police dog demo team with Sarge, Taz and Vedder, a crowd favorite last year. Sit n’ Stay Pet Services, Inc. will provide pet first aid demonstration.
There will be a stage with music provided by TMK/Glena photography. Water pools will be available for the canines, and the park offers lots of shady areas.
In addition to vendors and food trucks for hungry and thirsty humans, there will be a big basket auction. There are already more than 100 baskets and prizes, and winners need not be present for the drawing. All proceeds will go directly to the American Cancer Society Relays For Life of Lockport and Grand Island. Prize donations for the auction are still being accepted. Raffle tickets are currently available for a medium Petmate Indigo Igloo dog house; tickets are $5 or 3 for $10 and the drawing will be held at the BFL event.
For dogs, the registration and bandana pickup starts at 9 a.m. (pre-register at www.relayforlife.org/barkwesternny). The first 100 registered dogs/owners will receive a goody bag, so pre-registration is suggested. Anyone who raises $100 or more will receive a commemorative Bark For Life T-Shirt, including kitty owners who get $100 in votes in the Kute Kitty Kontest.
The opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m., with the Survivor’s Lap at 10:15. There will be many human cancer patients leading the faithful companions. Auction winners are announced at 12:45 p.m. There are several contests for the canines to enter, including a costume contest and a pet/owner look-alike match up. For those dogs who just want to romp and play, there is plenty of room to roam or nap. There is a huge playground available for family use, as well.
Cat lovers can get their cats involved in the fundraising efforts and bragging rights by entering the Kute Kitty Kontest. For a $5 donation, pet owners can submit a photo of their feline and the photos will be posted on display at Bark For Life. Proud cat owners get a vote for their cats with every $1 donation to the ACS. Attendees at the event can “vote” for their favorites by putting a donation in the kitty’s kitty. The feline deemed most adorable by the crowd will win a special prize, have their photo reprinted in the newspaper, and will remain the Top Kat until next year’s event. To enter the Kute Kitty Kontest, email a photo (jpeg format) to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Julie’s Kitty Kontest, 8691 Lake Road No. 9, Barker NY 14012. Add the pet’s name and a cute caption if you’d like. Owners’ names may be displayed, if desired. Make checks payable to the American Cancer Society. Monetary “votes’ for a particular kitty may also be sent to the above address or to PayPal for email@example.com — be sure to specify who you are voting for. The photos will also be posted online at www.julieobermiller.vpweb.com.
IF YOU GO:• WHAT: Bark for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 25 • WHERE: Day Road Park, corner East High Street and Day Road, Lockport • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Go to www.relayforlife.org/barkwesternny SCHEDULE OF EVENTS • 9 to 10 a.m.: Registration • 10 a.m.: Opening ceremony • 10:15 a.m.: Walk begins • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Canine Carnival & CATtractions, face painting by YMCA Teens, Sprinkles the Clown, Glitter Paw 'Tattoos,' Kute Kitty Kontest, Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Bark Kissing Booth, vendor fair basket raffle, 30-minute demonstrations (agility dogs, first aid and police dogs); contests, including Owner/Pet Look-Alike, Best Costume, Biggest Dog, Smallest Dog and Best Trick. All contests require a $1 entry free per pet. • 12:45 p.m.: Closing ceremony and awards presentation, with Joe Baschnagel Sr. on the bagpipes.